ArtPride NJ Dir. of Advocacy: End of Film Tax Credits Could Lead to More Business for Neighboring States

No more tax credits on Hollywood shoots for New Jersey. The state’s program to provide 20 percent tax credits on production expenses lapsed, but was out of cash even before then. Still The New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission says 327 productions were shot in the state last year. This year Clint Eastwood is shooting Sully, Bill Murray’s shooting in Hoboken, “Red Oaks” shoots in Rivervale — not to mention all those reality shows about things you can eat, or build or put on your skin are booming in the Garden State. So did tax credits really make a difference to the economy? Ann Marie Miller the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy of ArtPride NJ spoke with NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams about the benefits of the film tax credit on New Jersey.

Miller says that while there are intangible benefits of having movies shot in the garden state, economically “the conventional wisdom is that there is a $2-5 return on every dollar spent on film that is produced in-state.” Those benefits are for both above-the-line and below-the-line expenses, such as catering services, drivers and hotels.

The sunset on New Jersey’s tax program just occurred in July, but she says that we will see some direct impact. “It will be proven over time,” she said.

New York and Pennsylvania both have competitive incentives for the film industry with more money to spend on film tax credits. Miller said she believes that it will lead to more productions choosing to cross state lines. “I believe that New Jersey is at a competitive disadvantage that way because of those two states having such healthy programs,” Miller said. “I think that it would be to New Jersey’s advantage to come up with a structure that works for the state and the film industry.”

Besides the tax credit, New Jersey is the birthplace of the motion picture with Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Laurie Dickson inventing the kinetograph in a laboratory in West Orange.

“New Jersey actually has historical roots in the film industry. New York is running out of space and New Jersey is actually well positioned in the supply chain in terms of warehousing and transportation. It’s a logical place to go when they are running out of space in New York,” she said.

Gov. Christie famously vetoed a tax credit for the reality show “Jersey Shore” because it “tarnished the state’s reputation.” Miller says that’s the nature of the business. “You’re going to get those productions as well as the ones that instill pride in the state.” she said. “I think it also, to some degree, stimulates local economies and quite frankly it helps engender the local film industry. There’s a ton of film festivals happening in New Jersey, and that’s no accident that the roots of film are in New Jersey.”